Outlook of low LNG prices likely to push Asia towards more gas firing
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Combustion Industry News Editor
Reuters has reported on the currently low spot prices in Asia for LNG, and how a long period of low prices is expected to shape the energy world. Sometimes thought of as the “champagne of fuels”, in a term coined by an Indian power utility executive, prices in Asia at the start of this year have been at a 10-year low of US$4/million BTU, down from the 2018/19 winter peak of US$10.90/mBTU and the 2013/14 peak of US$20.50. While this has partly been because of a fairly mild winter in north Asia reducing the demand for heating, it is also due to more LNG production capacity coming online, and in the coming years production capacity will increase further, markedly. Because of this, prices are expected to remain low, which will provide some reassurance to utilities if they were to construct or convert plants to fire natural gas. The news is thus mixed for LNG suppliers – while prices will remain low and projects will take longer to pay off, the prices are expected to lead to greater demand in the medium to long term. Other supporting factors are at play: gas is less carbon-intensive than coal, a traditional competitor, which might become even more important if the EC institutes a carbon border tax; and LNG import terminals are generally cheaper to build than coal terminals. The news may not be all good for the climate, though – with gas prices being lower, utilities considering adding new capacity may opt for gas-fired capacity rather than renewables.